When it comes to health insurance, small businesses are often neglected and do not receive the same attention as larger businesses. Why? Most of the experienced, established health insurance brokers focus on larger, more lucrative (to the agent) businesses. That’s just a reality in our industry.
For businesses that employ fewer than 20 employees, it’s not as easy to find good advice.
Providing quality health insurance and ancillary benefits can make a huge difference in your employees’ overall job satisfaction. If you are an employer looking for the best possible health insurance and benefits, then the following five tips will help you make informed decisions.
5 Tips for Finding the Right Group Health Insurance
1. Ask your Employees What is Important to Them
Whether you are shopping for better coverage or offering group health insurance for the first time, this is a good place to start. Asking your employees what is important them is a smart move. It shows you, the employer, are concerned with their needs. It also helps to tailor a plan to the specific needs of your employees.
If you are shopping for better options, asking questions helps you determine what they like and dislike about their current plans.
Using a questionnaire can help determine important items. Finding out about doctors, networks, prescription drug plans, etc. can be very useful in the quoting process. For example, many employees want a good dental plan. This is valuable benefit, but is often low-cost to the employer.
A knowledgeable agent can help you with the questionnaire so you know what questions are important to ask.
2. Determine How Much You Want to Pay?
It’s no surprise that health insurance can be quite expensive. Most carriers require a minimum employer contribution of half of the employees’ premium. You are not required to pay anything towards dependent (an employee’s spouse and/or children) premium.
Some employers pay a defined contribution. This method allows you to pay a fixed amount towards your employees’ monthly premium. This approach gives employees the option to “buy up” to a better, more comprehensive plan. It also helps to control costs for the employer.
3. Ask About Community Rated vs Level Funded Plans
In a nutshell, community rated (CR) plans do not require medical underwriting. Rates are not based on health, so the cost is higher.
Level Funded plans work well for “healthy” groups. It involves a little more work, but rates are based on the overall health of employees and rates can be substantially lower.
Get quotes for both CR and LF and find out which type of plan makes the most sense for your group. Both plan types are compliant with the Affordable Care Act and cover all pre-existing conditions.
4. Consider Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Alternative Solutions
Many employers (and their employees) want a straight-forward, traditional co-pay plan. However, most carriers allow more than one plan selection. So, it’s good to have alternative plan options to fit the needs of your employees.
HSA-compatible plans can be a sensible, low-cost option. HSAs allow employees and/or employers to contribute to the health savings account and pay for qualified health expenses with tax-free dollars. If the money in the account isn’t used, it rolls over from year to year on a tax-deferred basis. There is no “use it or lose it” provision unlike Flexible Spending Accounts.
You should look at strategies such as management carve-outs or combining a high-deductible plan with a fixed-indemnity plan to bridge the gap.
There are several strategies that can help save money and provide tailored solutions to your company.
5. Don’t Go It Alone
Some business owners contact insurance companies directly and get quotes. It’s not hard to do. Just call Humana, Aetna, or Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. You will get quotes, but it will be difficult to compare plans and determine the best fit for your employees.
Look for an independent agent who can work with you. The cost to you is exactly the same.
You will need advice regarding plan selection, enrollment and implementation. Additionally, the ongoing service provided by an agent does not cost you anything.
Ask the agent how many years he or she has been working in the group health / employee benefits market. Also, ask for a few references from current clients. Make sure your agent is experienced, reputable and is willing to work hard to help you find the best solutions.
Start Early and Take Your Time
Start the shopping process a few months in advance of your requested effective date, if possible. Allow yourself time to find a reputable agent. Also, take your time to listen to your employees and consider all the options to find the best, most cost-effective employee benefit solutions for your business.5
As mentioned at the outset, providing quality health insurance and other benefits is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Investing time to secure the best coverage will pay huge dividends.
Your Partner and Advisor
We’re committed to helping you find the best and most affordable insurance plans for your business. When you buy through us, you’ll get more than just health insurance plans, you’ll get a partner and an advisor.
We’re Committed to you at ALL Times
Even after your health insurance is in place, we will help you with all your employee benefit needs. We are committed to serving you and your employees as an advocate and advisor. Throughout the year and especially at renewal time, we’ll listen to your ongoing concerns and shop for competitive quotes so that you know you’re still getting the very best on the market.